During the summer, schedules and routines vary week to week or even day to day, leaving parents feeling mentally overloaded sprinkled with a constant fear of leaving a child somewhere. I would encourage every parent to take a deep breath, pause and refocus on what is important in life. After weeks of our whole family feeling out of sorts, I was inspired to be present in the moment and do something to teach my children how to be kind and connect with others in our community. Sometimes we as a family can’t tackle the issues around homelessness, but maybe we can bring a smile or comfort or acknowledgement to another human being.
We started with a simple discussion about how we should make “Blessing Bags” or care kits for the homeless that we as a family could hand out. I asked my children what items someone who is homeless might need. I was surprised and encouraged to hear my children’s thoughtful responses. My son Billy, who is 7, suggested ponchos because of all the unprecedented rain we have been having so homeless individuals could stay dry. My daughter Courtney, who is 9, suggested we buy sunscreen since typically it is very sunny in Colorado. My kids colored bags and cards signed with all our first names. We decided to take a trip to the local Dollar Tree for supplies. We packed eight bags with a pair of socks, sunscreen, ponchos, toothbrush/toothpaste, various snacks, a bottle of water and a handmade card. We loaded up into the car and started to drive to search for individuals in need of our bags. My kids asked how we would know who to hand out our bags to. My husband, Steve, suggested we approach individuals who are holding up signs asking for help.
We pulled over our car and stopped at a gas station to hand out some bags to a man and woman. My daughter and I got out to hand them two bags. The lady was incredibly grateful and was very excited about the water because she had a 2-year-old asleep in a grocery cart covered by an umbrella. We didn’t see the child, but both my daughter and I were surprised and saddened. We gave them extra bottles of water because that is what we could do in the moment.
We went down to Civic Center Park and were able to hand out the rest of our remaining bags. My son got a fist bump thank you from one elderly homeless man with cataracts and the biggest toothless smile of gratitude. My daughter walked away saying we needed to bring more bags next time. I agreed.
What can you and your family learn from small acts of kindness? How can you plan to pause and do good with your family in your community?
Written by Jenny Emerson, CPA who is Co-Founder & Co-Director of the Raising Kindness program with Spark the Change Colorado. Jenny is the mother of two children, an active community volunteer, and lives in Denver, Colorado.
The mission of Raising Kindness is to empower children & families to do good in their communities. To learn more about the Raising Kindness program, please visit us at sparkthechangecolorado.org/raising-kindness or follow us on Facebook/Instagram @raisingkindnessco. Jenny is available for interviews.